Forbidden Black Rice Salad

Black Rice was once “only” enjoyed by the Emperor and his royal court. It was forbidden for the commoners to eat this exquisite black rice. The tender, nutty flavoured rice is presumed to enrich one’s life and promote longevity.rice3 After I brought my chilled rice salad to the office,  I noticed that all the staff made it the following week!  It travels well and is a great picnic salad.  A refreshing change from your typical summer salads.
I researched and tried out several versions but this recipe from the Bon Appétit June 2012 needs no improvement. black rice salad photo provided by Jason Lowe, Bon Appétit

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BLACK RICE SALAD – WITH MANGO AND NUTS
INGREDIENTS
2 oranges
1/4 cup or more fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2 cups black rice
Kosher salt
2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″dice
1 cup finely fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or unsalted cashews or other nuts
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, minced
black-rice-ingredients
INSTRUCTIONS
1 ) Remove peel and white pith from oranges.
2 ) Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes over bow to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.
3 ) Add 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend.
4 ) Set dressing aside.
5 ) Bring rice and 2 and 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, Reduce heat to low and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes.
6 ) Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing and season lightly with salt; let cool.
7 ) Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine.
8 ) Season lightly with salt and more lime juice if desired.
Serves: 6–8

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
While whole grain brown rice and red rice also contain beneficial antioxidants; only black rice contains special variety of antioxidants known as anthocyanin antioxidants. (Thus the dark purple colour -like blueberries)  Additionally, black rice also contains an important antioxidant – Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune health in addition to other important functions. Forbidden Black Rice contains 18 amino acids (same as Aloe Vera), iron, zinc, copper, carotene, and fiber. Mangos are #1 ~ the most popular fruit in the world.

black-rice

Emperor’s Dining Room

In ancient times, Emperors reserved this wonderful black rice for their own consumption because it was thought that it would extend their lives. Black rice does provide many health benefits that the western world is now embracing with gusto.  It helps fight against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes with high amount of flavanoid phytonutrients and protects heart health (plaque formation). Herbalists use black rice as a prevention and treatment for ailments and as a blood tonifier. 

Black Rice was also considered to be somewhat of an aphrodisiac at one time.  I suspect the Emperors down throughout the ages shared their black rice stock with their consorts or concubines.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Rice.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Black Rice. photo provided by Spikenard and Myrrh

Black Rice is surely ‘one of the’… if not ‘the most’ special variety of rice that is cultivated today. Its special, near medicinal values is truly stunning, even today with all of our medical knowledge and tools. Every time you sit down to enjoy a few servings of this awesome super food, you can remind yourself that you are eating something that was once reserved for royalty. If a commoner was caught eating this rice it was “off with their heads”.

VARIATIONS
If you are trying to find something else to do with your avocados, my friend Monique from Ambitious Kitchen added avocado to her black rice salad. It is a nice touch and goes well. Instead of unsalted peanuts (Bon Appétit version), I used cashews while Monique added almonds to her salad. If you have the time and patience, roasted pecans would be wonderful too.
avocado-mango-blackrice-salad

Another gluten-free recipe that is filled with flavour , colour and the YUM-Factor!

kids32BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH!
A light touch: For milder flavour, use leeks instead of red onion and yellow or red bell peppers instead of jalapeno peppers. Forget the nuts (allergies)  if you like.  Substitute other herbs for the cilantro. e.g. parsley, basil, fresh mint, fresh-soft rosemary (my favorite) or even peppery rocket lettuce. Know what your kids like to eat. I would even test out fresh oregano in this ‘forbidden’ black rice salad.  COLLEGE KIDS: Add a smidgen of fresh pressed garlic ~ to boost the immune system.  If it is not fresh I would not use the herbs. The dried herbs taste different. They have flavour, but are better suited in baking and cooking.

Y-U-M-M      Y-U-M-M-M!

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15 minute ~Summer Sunset Pudding

RED SKY AT NIGHT SAILORS DELIGHT!
Celebrate summer evenings with beautiful golden red sunsets enjoying abundant fresh fruit with my favorite SUMMER PUDDING!
Red_black_currantsWhen I saw red and black currants at the market, I was immediately inspired to make my favourite dessert.  I am not a big fan of desserts in general.  But,  I love my summer pudding!  You can use a combination of almost any berries that are available. There is so much fresh fruit  this time of year.  Our window of opportunity to make this healthy dessert is here now!
Imagine a dessert packed with super foods!

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RECIPE
3/4 cup Raspberries
3/4 cup red currents
3/4 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cups black currents (or red currents)
3/4 cups sweetener (i.e. zylitol, stevia)
1/4 cup of water
8 fairly thick slices of dense white bread, crusts removed
whipping cream (optional)
summer-pudding_ingredients3
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Remove stems and wash fruit, add with sugar into a pan +plus 1/4 cup of water
2. Cover and cook gently for 5-7 minutes or until currents are tender
3. Drain off the juice and reserve 1/3 cup [ 75 ml.]
4. Line a 1 quart (1 liter pudding basin or Charlotte mold ) container with plastic wrap so that the pudding will be easily removed from the mold.
5. Place some of the bread slices, cutting the slices to fit into basin exactly
6. Spoon in the fruit and packing it in well
7. Pour in the reserved juice
8. Place the remaining bread on top of the fruit
9. Place a plate small enough to rest on the pudding itself
10. Place your heaviest weight or water in a plastic container on the plate
Leave the pudding overnight in the refrigerator or a very cold place.
Serve with whipped cream, custard sauce, or cream if desired.
Serves 4-6 people
VARIATIONS
Alternatively if you cannot find currants substitute strawberries and or raspberries and add lemon juice to get the tangy flavour of currants. Loganberry or blackberry can be substituted for blueberries.
HAT2FOOD TIP
Use sourdough bread for this summer pudding. The hypoglycemic index is much lower in sour dough bread than any other white bread. You will not have a hypoglycemic episode after eating sour dough bread. Dense white bread may require more liquid. Keep the extra liquid in the frig. When you unmold the pudding–fill in the missed (white) spots with the juice. I found that additional liquid was needed.

SINGLE SERVINGS
For single servings, make individual portions by using large ramekins. Use the ramekin to cut out the piece(s) of bread.  Place  one circle of bread on the bottom. Fill with the fruit compote  and top the ramekin with another piece of bread if you like (optional).  A fruit sandwich!  You can line a soup tin with saran wrap and make a 3 -layer tall single serving ~super size it!  When you begin, place the bottom of the saran lined tin on a small plate starting with the bread on the bottom. Use whatever you have handy. You do not have to get the exact container that is mentioned in the recipe. The possibilities are endless.

Single Serving Summer Pudding

Single Serving Summer Pudding

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
Research shows that the common or garden black currant is more nutritious than other fruits ~ from home-grown apples and strawberries to tropical mangoes and bananas.
Black currants also contain the highest levels of health-boosting antioxidants – natural compounds credited with the ability to stave off a range of illnesses from heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Since the middle ages, herbalists used black currents to treat bladder stones, liver disorders and coughs. A black current cordial was given free to children during the Second World War in Europe.  Black currents are popular in European countries.
SUPER FRUIT
All berries have numerous health benefits but if you can find black currants, you will have the number one super fruit.

Dried Black Currents No Additives

Heart Smart

DRIED BLACK CURRENTS
You can buy dried black currents and use them in the Summer Sunset Pudding. I found this wonderful site that processed and packaged dried currents in Washington, on the Pacific Coast of U.S.A, Better they are shipped to your door not your store. The flavour is outstanding.  Here is the link–> nwwildfoods.com

Simply Splendid Summer Pudding (used Charlotte mold)!

Simply Splendid Summer Pudding (used Charlotte mold)!

Ambition Nutrition

GEORGE BROWN COLLEGE SYMPOSIUM
At the recent symposium at George Brown College, the speakers were an esteemed group including amongst others a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Michael Moss, an endocrinologist who is a professor at Harvard medical school, Dr. David Ludwig, and a cardiologist, epidemiologist from Tufts, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian.

Dr. David Ludwig and Chef Eva at George Brown Symposium

Michael Moss’s book “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” and Dr. David Ludwig‘s book “Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently” have both been on the New York Times best selling list. Their information was compelling.
george-brown-goals
Dr. Ludwig’s decades of ground breaking but little known research has culminated in his evidence based approach to obesity. He targets the root cause of obesity. Insulin is stimulated by the processed carbohydrates in our diet – not just added sugar, but also processed carbs like bread, white rice, pasta, potato products, cookies, crackers, and “fat-free” snacks and desserts. That’s why he recommends a higher fat diet, which is the fastest way to lower insulin levels and jump-start weight loss. Recent systematic reviews confirm that, contrary to what we’ve been told for 40 years, high fat diets are more effective than low fat diets for weight loss. And the types of fat we emphasize – those present in nuts, olive oil, avocado, fish, and dark chocolate – are especially good for the heart. But you don’t have to eliminate all carbohydrates to get these benefits.

george-brown-balancedLAST FIVE(5)  MONTHS
I have been on a high fat diet for the past 5 months and I have never felt better. I have more mental clarity and am never hungry as he states in his book. And I get to put butter or Béarnaise  on my vegetables! Fat is good for your brain. I’m a happy gal!
Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy of the department of Nutrigenomics at the University of Toronto discussed that there were genomes that identified individuals who’s blood pressure is affected by salt intake, who’s health is adversely affected by coffee, etc. We don’t all have to give these up as they do not affect us. Genetic testing is available for individuals who wish to find out their personal results. Interesting….

MY CONTRIBUTION
I explained to Dr. Ludwig how my food blog is attempting to give people delicious tasty food that is healthy and give information on nutrients and their affect on their bodies in order to encourage them to eat these foods. He liked my title “Simply Splendid food”

Dr. David Ludwig Book Signing

Dr. David Ludwig’s book “Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently”  is a welcome addition to my culinary library!

A Refreshing Watermelon Salad

FLAVOR-TOWN-MED-SMALLHow about a refreshing and flavourful salad? This unusual combination is a real winner!
A ‘ONE HIT WONDER’ at my last dinner for 16 people. The colourful, delicious salad is an enjoyable departure from your regular dinner servings. Make this salad for your family and friends and watch the smiles appear.

With these refreshing, succulent flavours you have just entered ‘FLAVOUR TOWN’.

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INGREDIENTS
1 red onion
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 kilograms watermelon
1 bunch fresh mint, basil or cilantro (chopped)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100 grams pitted sun dried or Kalamata olives
250 grams feta cheese
watermelon-ingredients
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Cut the red onion into fine slices. Place the onions in the lime juice. This will soften the sharp flavour of the onions. The lime juice will turn a light pink colour.
2. While that is marinating, cut the watermelon into cubes or balls using a melon baller. This looks so appetizing.
3. Cut the feta into bite sized pieces.
4. Assemble the watermelon, herbs, and olives in a salad bowl.
5. Add the olive oil and black pepper to the onions and lime juice. Stir this to combine.
6. Add to the watermelon mix and gently toss.
7. Scatter the feta over the salad. Add these at the end to maintain the white colour.

Serves 8
IMG_2801

didyouknow2DID YOU KNOW? Watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — but this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids.
Watermelon is also a good source of pantothenic acid, copper, biotin, potassium and magnesium.
Cancer: As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C as well as other antioxidants, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Lycopene intake has been linked with a decreased risk of prostate cancer prevention in several studies.
VARIATIONS: Garnish with balls of honeydew melon for an even brighter colour!  Peppery  arugula greens contrast well with the sweet watermelon. A good addition to this salad.

Light Lunch: Grilled Marinated chicken with assorted veggies /Watermelon Salad

Light Lunch: Grilled Marinated chicken with assorted veggies /Watermelon Salad

5 Minute MOUSSE ~ Chocolate with Avocado

5 MINUTE GLUTEN-FREE MOUSSE
What a great way to Celebrate EARTH DAY!!!  Friday, April 22, 2016.
It is a special day that started in 1990 – brought awareness of pesticides used in our crops and focusing on a cleaner environment. Organic foods began its slow resurgence at this time.

Image provided by authoritynutrition,com

Image provided by authoritynutrition.com

AVOCADO
A friend of mine eats 1/2 of an avocado every day.  Mainly because she likes the creamy texture and taste. Instead of a salad or other ways to eat your avocado, how about dessert? This creamy high protein fruit goes well with cocoa in a smooth and luscious dessert. The good news is that this healthy avocado-chocolate mousse will not raise your blood sugar or cause that sugar crash of hypoglycemia, or encourage further food cravings. The perfect dessert!

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INGREDIENTS
1 ripe large avocado
1/4 cup raw cocoa powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk
1 tablespoon stevia or other sweetener
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon natural almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS
1.Place the chocolate chips in a  bowl.  Place over a small saucepan of barely simmering water.  Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
2.Place the melted chocolate, avocado, cocoa powder, almond or coconut milk, sweetener,  vanilla,  and salt in a food processor.  Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping the side of the bowl as needed. Spoon into glasses or place in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe into glasses.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours  (Can be prepared 1 day in advance or even frozen and defrosted at room temperature).

Ingredients For The Avocado ~ ORANGE ~ Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients For The Avocado ~ ORANGE ~ Chocolate Mousse

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AVOCADO ~ CHOCOLATE ORANGE MOUSSE
INGREDIENTS
2 small avocados
1/4-1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon stevia or other sweetener
1/8 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl. Place over a small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Place the melted chocolate, avocados, orange juice, grated orange rind, coca powder, sweetener, and salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth, scraping the side of the bowl as needed. Spoon into glasses or place in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe into glasses. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. This is especially pretty if piped into a hollowed shell of half of an orange.  I would suggest not to freeze this one.

Avocado Chocolate Mousse! YUM!!!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse! YUM!!!

 

AVOCADO ~ CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH CARDAMOM
INGREDIENTS
1 ripe large avocado
1/4 cup raw coco powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk
1 tablespoon stevia or other sweetener
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon natural almond extract
1 tsp cardamom ground
1/8 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl. Place over a small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Place the melted chocolate, avocado, cocoa powder, almond or coconut milk, sweetener, vanilla, cardamom, and salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping the side of the bowl as needed. Spoon into glasses or place in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe into glasses. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (Can be prepared 1 day in advance or even frozen and defrosted at room temperature).
avocado-mousse2
starI  made all three of these mousse recipes and had a tasting with my friends. Diva Eva’s Taste Testers!  Although my preference was the  cardamom version, the  chocolate orange version got the most votes.  Orange is so good with chocolate!  I will be serving it tonight with my visitors from the States! They will be surprised with the added avocado!  Years ago, we used to serve the orange cups at Christmas dinners in Florida (the orange state) without the avocado.  I am so happy that I have found a new way to serve avocados for my friends. They know I am a health nut! Talking about nuts, you can grate the avocado nut. Use it like salt and pepper. read more www.dailymail.com .  Add a half grated avocado seed to your smoothy. Did you know Queen Elizabeth uses avocado oil.
HAT2FOOD TIP: Add toasted sliced almonds,  mixed berries (frozen or fresh) and  cocoa nibs. Top with yogurt + chia seeds or chia powder (grind some chia seed with a mortar and pestle and then sprinkle both chia seeds and powder on top of the dollop of plain yogurt). The sour yogurt will bring out the flavour of the sweet mousse. I have used lemon yogurt in a pinch! For peanut butter fans add a smidgen (to taste) in your mix. If you combine cardamom with orange works well too.

TRADITIONAL MOUSSE
Classic Chocolate Mousse is laden with heavy cream, eggs, egg whites and espresso coffee. However,  you could add some instant coffee or espresso (to taste) to your A/C Mousse.
VARIATION
Edible clover is good for St. Paddy’s day celebration! The clover would be lost on the dark, delicate dessert we just made. I would add a dollop of yogurt on the mousse. Then, sprinkle the edible clover in top of the yogurt for good colour.  Here is another version. The St. Paddy’s Day Mousse from my friend at slendereats.blogspot.ca This recipe uses 6 egg whites giving a light fluffy texture to the avocado. Adding peppermint extract is a nice touch. The chocolate bottom has one tablespoon of instant coffee. It looks so pretty!

Add Fresh Mint and Top with Edible Clover.

Add Fresh Mint and Top with Edible Clover.